Today I’m bringing you a guest post by Kate Watson who has recently released the much acclaimed Mansfield Park modernisation, Seeking Mansfield.
Kate Watson will share with all of you why she decided to write this book and why she choose to write a modernisation instead of a regency variation. I hope you enjoy her guest post, but if that will only leave you with a insatiable need to read the book, I can also help with that, you can enjoy the an excerpt by clicking on this link:
If that is still not enough, you can find Seeking Mansfield on :
And now, I’ll leave you with my guest, Kate Watson 🙂
Modernizing a Classic
Several years ago, I was rereading Mansfield Park for the umpteenth time after a debate some of my friends had been having over which Jane Austen novel they least preferred: Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park. Of course, for me, saying something like “least preferred Jane Austen novel” is akin to saying “least enjoyed luxury vacation” or “least delicious brownie.” In other words, they’re all freaking amazing, and I love them (also, does anyone have a brownie?).
That said, Mansfield Park is not my least preferred. Honestly, depending on my mood, sometimes, it’s even my favorite.
So. There I was rereading one of my favorite books in the world and thinking about how even huge Jane Austen fans don’t always like it, and I was filled with this desire to justify the book. I wanted to defend Fanny Price, a character whom I love, even if she lacks many characteristics of a typical Austen heroine. I began to take notes as I read. I circled parts that spoke to me and highlighted lines that always make me laugh (or cry). I jotted down idea after idea, and when I was done my reread, I compiled the notes into an outline.
Then I closed the book and I set that outline aside, never to be looked at again. I wanted to tell a story that would appeal to Mansfield Park fans, but it had to be fresh, adding something different from both the source material and the (wonderful) existing retellings out there. I wanted the story to feel inevitable, without feeling necessarily predictable.
I started by figuring out my characters. The more I considered what Seeking Mansfield could become, the more I was struck by images of a modern Fanny—my Finley. I saw her in a hospital bed. I saw her alone in her room on the top floor of a house. I saw her with literal and figurative scars and I needed to know her story. And by seeing her, I started to see the characters around her: Oliver and his siblings, Mr. and Mrs. Bertram, Aunt Nora, Harlan and Emma Crawford.
If an updated version of this beloved classic was going to work, I also had to find ways to update some of the antiquated elements, like cousins in love, the scandal of a home play, the fact that the “worldly” Crawfords come from London, and Edmund Bertram’s controlling influence over Fanny. I considered what potential corollaries could exist in modernizing both the themes and the characters, as well as their worldviews.
In doing all of this, Seeking Mansfield began to take shape and to become something more than I originally expected. I learned more about each of the characters, and it was such a joy to watch their story unfold.
And now that Seeking Mansfield is out in the world, I can only hope readers will agree.
Sixteen year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. If she could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.
When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertram’s, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his vapid sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.
But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart—and keep her own—she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.
SEEKING MANSFIELD is a charming YA contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic Mansfield Park, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell.
Kate Watson is a young adult writer, wife, mother of two, and the tenth of thirteen children. Originally from Canada, she attended college in the States and holds a BA in Philosophy from Brigham Young University. A lover of travel and experiencing new cultures, she has also lived in Israel, Brazil, and the American South. She now calls Arizona home.
For several years, Kate worked as a senior director for a private university and was one of the faces of a national ad campaign for the university. Shortly following the birth of her first child, she chose to stay home full time and focus on her family and her writing.
Seeking Mansfield is her first novel, with a companion novel to follow. She is also a contributor to Eric Smith’s Welcome Home adoption anthology coming fall 2017 from Flux.
Kate Watson is offering two copies of Seeking Mansfield to her readers, the giveaway is international (ebook copies), but US residentes may choose the paperback format. The giveaway will be open until the 23rd, and to enter it, all you have to do is click here.
Good Luck everyone!